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January/February 2021

Off The Streets And On Their Feet

Patriot Place In Gaylord Is More Than Housing – It’s a Fresh Start

The Blue Angels 75th Anniversary

The Unbelievable

Flight of my Life

It took 14 years, but I was finally offered a seat in an F-18 Hornet - a Blue Angel. John Russell

TABLE OF CONTENTS 12 January/February 2020

06 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 08 VA Update - Happy New Year


09 Transitioning to Civilian Life 10 Coffee Table Coach New Beginnings Mindset Reset 12 The Unbelievable Flight of my Life 14 The Blue Angels - 75th Anniversary 16 The Blue Angels in Northern Michigan 18 4 Lifestyle Medicine Tips to Reclaiming Your Life


20 Off The Streets And On Their Patriot Place 22 Hog Wild Bomber Incident 24 John Wemlinger’s New Book Review 27 Thoughts on Becoming a Writer 28 How a Spending Plan Saves Money and Reduces Stress 32 BUFFALO HEAD MOUNTAIN


34 Veteran Owned True North Counseling 36 New Beginnings! 38 In the Kitchen - Avocado LIme Mash


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New Year from our

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Real Estate for Real Heroes Ben

illiams REALTOR


GATHER Media LLC Hannah Bouwmeester - Owner Traverse City, MI 49696, (231) 492-7870



Contributing Photographer

Great Lakes Images


SCHMIDT Realtors

522 E. Front St., Traverse City, MI 231-929-2300 Office



Amanda Renkiewicz Brad Giglio Dr. Chris Moran Gaurav Roy Hannah Bouwmeester Jeffrey Beebe John Russell John Wemlinger Kierstin Gunsberg Michael Kent Michael W. Roof Pete Lathrop Tom Dalluge Jayden Designs hannah@gatherveterans.com Visit gatherveterans.com/ subscribe-today to subscribe. Subscription Rates: One Year, 6 issues, $19.95. Allow six weeks for first issue to be received.

231-632-7888 Ben@LakeLifeRealEstate.com

Note: Veterans can pick up a free copy at various locations. Please email hannah@gatherveterans.com for details in your area. Note: Not all areas serviced.

Copyright @2020 GATHER Media LLC. All rights reserved. Individual works also copyrighted by their originators. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. We do not assume any liability for errors or omissions. GATHER Media LLC does not necessarily endorse any of the attractions, products or services contained within.

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A Legacy of Hope


ATHER Veterans has survived the rollercoaster of 2020. I am so grateful. I’m sure you can agree there were some pretty crazy days for all of us! Days the future was hard even to envision. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate every single person on our GATHER team. There is simply no way I would have been able to do all of this without their love, support, and loyalty. Since I am speaking of support and loyalty, I hate to ask, but I will. Veterans all across our region benefit from this much-needed resource and the encouragement they get with every issue of GATHER Veterans. That said, we need your support. We are looking for advertisers to help make each issue a success and reach more Veterans each time. If you would like to advertise your business, service, or non-profit to our Veterans and active duty military community, please contact me at hannah@ gatherveterans.com. We have

so many options that we can find a fit for you no matter what your budget. Do you know a local business owner that could step up, be the hero to our Veterans, and shine as the local expert in their industry? Please tell them about GATHER Veterans and recommend they reach out to speak with one of our account executives to help them establish or keep topof-mind awareness in our Veterans and active duty military communities. I would be so grateful, as would the many veterans who will receive this magazine free of charge. Would you be our supporter and help pass the word about this incredible opportunity to local businesses to bridge the gap between them and our amazing and loyal demographic of Veterans, and active-duty military? In that case, you can help build a LEGACY of HOPE. Humbly, Hannah

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VA Update

Happy New Year! By Michael Roof

Director, Dept. of Veteran Affairs, Grand Traverse County


am not sure about you, but I am hoping that 2021 will be way better than in 2020. The pandemic continues to strain businesses, government / healthcare resources, families, and everyone’s mental health. While many Michigan counties have a Veterans’ Affairs office, the others have no primary resource to assist veterans. There are agencies like the Michigan Veterans Affairs (MVAA) Agency and the Michigan Veteran Coalition (MVC) to help fill those gaps. The MVAA various programs to help connect with veterans. The Buddy to Buddy volunteer mentorship program supports veterans of all eras in linking them to resources that address multiple issues. This program requires volunteers that can provide veterans with one-onmentorship. The MVAA also has a program called “Check on MIVet.” This program aims to provide the employment, education, healthcare, quality of life, or other resource information they need to thrive. To learn more, go to

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www.michiganveterans.com/ mvaaCheckonMIVET. The Michigan Veterans Coalition comprises representatives from the following four veteran service organizations: American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. The MVC employs Veteran Service Officers (VSO) to assist veterans and their dependents in gathering information necessary to support a claim and file a claim. The MVC can also help with filing appeals for denied claims. The MVC has VSOs throughout

the state of Michigan. To find out who is in your county, go to www.michiganveterans.com/ find-benefits-counselor. We all have our views on how to handle this pandemic. Whether it aligns with the elected officials and the Michigan Health Department’s or not, please show kindness and courtesy to those around us. COVID continues to pit people against each other. Please don’t allow it into your bubble of relationship to ruin them. Semper Fi, Michael

Transitioning to Civilian Life By Michael Roof

Throughout the military’s discharge process, service members sit in a class focused on providing resources to assist with their transition to civilian life. The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) usually falls short for many members. With my personal experience, while discharging from the Marines at Camp Pendleton in California, we had an officer from the California Highway Patrol tell us they would immediately accept us into their academy if we went straight there on our discharge date. That might be great for someone wanting to stay in the area, but I just wanted to get back to Illinois. This hyper-focused offer system seems the case for most TAP classes. There is limited or no local resources for the service member in the area they are returning. For most members, the top priorities are usually housing and employment. For housing needs, find a reputable realtor in the area you are going to for assistance in finding a house. Make sure you have your VA Home Loan paperwork done to utilize those benefits. For employment, check in with your local Michigan Works office. Michigan Works provides

job seekers the support, training, and services they need to get back to work. For more on Michigan Works, go to www.michiganworks.org. Veterans are accustomed to being part of a group of like-minded people. Research veterans’ groups in your area and join. Don’t just be a member but be active in continuing to serve with others. TAP classes look different from branch to branch, and the Department of Defense and VA are actively working on making it better each year. When you reach your final destination, check with your local County Department of Veterans’ Affairs office. These people have knowledge of all resources in the area for veterans and recently returning service members. For more helpful information about transitioning from military life to civilian life visit: www. michiganveterans.com. Also, please look for our four part series on gatherveterans.com.

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Coffee Table Coach New Beginnings Mindset Reset By Hannah Bouwmeester


oing into 2020, I was on a high. My business was finally picking up momentum in areas I had been working so hard to push that boulder over the crest of the mountain. My team was excited and ready to make 2020 “the year of GATHER!” We were getting brand recognition and knew 2020’s focus would be making GATHER a household name. As you know, 2020 has been the year of momentum stoppers, game-changers, relationship crushers, and mindset devastators. All the envisioning I did failed to predict this wrench life has thrown at all of us!! My mantra went from “the year of GATHER” to “now what?” This question leads me to the critical exercise I have to continue to practice throughout the year. It has kept GATHER afloat, helped me to innovate, and placed me in the same mindset I was 12 months ago; on a high, super

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excited about the future of GATHER and my life personally, and looking expectantly to 2021 as the year of GATHER. What is that practice? ASKING QUESTIONS. You see, most people were traveling along the road of life just like I was, and the Mack truck of COVID, shutdowns, and election chaos barrelled down on them as well. But instead of continuing to ask questions once they recovered from being run over by life, they sat dazed and confused. Life’s momentum didn’t just slow down; it came to a screeching halt. They stopped asking questions and just let life happen to them. The result was suicide rates went up, alcohol consumption went up, drug abuse, family abuse, businesses closing, and the list goes on ad nauseam. Why are questions so important? They are the springboard to new ideas. They switch your focus from

the problem to the answer. They stimulate your creative juices, and you shift from the emotional to the rational. Questions have been a constant as I have navigated this year and continue to be as my team and I prep for 2021. One key question that has helped manage my mindset is, “What am I grateful for?” Gratitude is an appreciation that has finally struck the heart and caused a visceral reaction to the things that have happened in life that bring you positive emotions. How do you cultivate gratitude when your mind freezes in fear, anxiety, or defeat? You simply notice those things in your life that bring a smile to your face or introduce positivity. Then you reflect on them, and soon attention becomes appreciation. You begin to feel thankful. You sense your blessings that those things out there—your job, your child, your lover, that kind person’s gesture—those are blessings. But noticing is not enough.

Most notice a blessing, and they intellectually appreciate it. But fail to go deeper into the well of wonder. The world is too full of urgent tasks, obligations, distractions, and bad news. So we notice much, feel little. Do you see how one little question can revolutionize your entire day and life? Other questions I asked myself during 2020: 1. How can I pivot my business model to adjust to this new world? 2. What things can I do to connect on a deeper level with the people I get to see and spend time enjoying? 3. Am I focused on things that make a difference in the lives of people? 4. What can I do tomorrow to keep moving forward? 5. How can I reboot and get back on track with my workout routine?

way to get unstuck and move forward positively. Their mindset is a growth mindset. They become difference makers and future takers. A desire to understand and give thanks enlivens a troubled vessel. Appreciation flowers into the only emotion that makes all others and life worthwhile: Gratitude. Gratitude is the floodgate to questions that move mountains and make the difference.

So let us ask, “If I slowed down  and noticed the blessings all around,  If I asked the tough questions And refused to follow the crowd, Could I make a difference today  and tomorrow  and every day forward?” Please read this, stop, pause, reflect, ask the questions, talk it out, write it down, share it with someone. Reset your mindset for the rest of 2021 and be a difference-maker today!

And on and on and on. These questions were gifts that created power and perspective for me as I slogged my way through the unknown of this pandemic. The masters of this life slow down and brave the greater feelings of gratitude and inquisition. They let appreciation percolate, count their blessings, wonder at them, talk about them with loved ones, and journal about them, so they never forget and demonstrate thanks for them through prayer. They feel indebted to give as much as they have received. They simply figure out a

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The Unbelievable Flight of my Life By John Russell - Owner of Great Lakes Images Photography.


t took 14 years, but I was finally offered a seat in an F-18 Hornet a Blue Angel.

Working at the Traverse City Record-Eagle as a photojournalist, I became fascinated with the team in 1988 after meeting the crew during their first visit to Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival. Equipped with my various cameras, I had a front-row view of the thrilling action on the ground and in the air during each visit. Occasionally, the Blue Angels offered the media/news

Photo by John Russell

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members, and VIP’s a ride in #7, a two-seated, fast, and powerful Navy jet. Of course, that sounded like a dream come true. I have harbored a deep fascination with flight since childhood, spending time in Coast Guard aircraft, hot air balloons, a blimp, and just about every type of flying machine. I spent every other year offering my pleas to fly with the Blue Angles when scheduled to perform in Traverse City. The invitation to fly in an F-18 Hornet was extended to me in May 2002, and I enthusiastically replied with a hearty “YES”!

As a 52-year-old man at the time (and an even younger man at heart), I began my training doing more sit-ups and learning what I could do to prepare for the flight of my life. Blue Angel Flight Day – July 3, 2002 Wearing a Blue Angels flight coverall and helmet, I was strapped in by the ankles, thighs, and every other place a belt would hold me down. I had three – what they referred to as “party bags” - on either side of me, in case air sickness became an issue. It was not surprising that they were used a lot with first-time guests. Determined not to pass out

“Unbelievable” was the phrase I repeated throughout the hour flight. or succumb to a “party bag” like my predecessors, I had even asked what I should eat before the flight. What did they suggest? A banana. I wondered if the potassium would help, but the female Navy Flight Surgeon joked, “Nope, a banana tastes the same coming up!” My heart pounded with excitement. Finally, I would fly with an Angel, fulfilling a lifelong dream. “The clicking sound of the cockpit closing will be the loudest sound you’ll hear before we land,” said Marine Captain Len Anderson. His call name was “Lonnie”. “Lonnie” was correct; all of the sounds are left behind once in the air. It was everything, and more than I expected or ever would experience. Speeding down the runway, we jumped vertically to 10,000 feet in seconds, pinning me back and taking my breath away.

Unbelievable. “Unbelievable” was the phrase I repeated throughout the hour flight. We flew down to Manistee in minutes at over 400 mph. Yes. Four hundred miles per hour! The captain explained all aircraft functions and maneuvers and made the flight a once-in-alifetime experience. We flew over 700 mph and slowed down to under 90 mph, the airplane a

powerful and unique aircraft. We did loops and corkscrews, tight turns, and vertical climbs. Unbelievable. I was understandably not allowed to take a camera in the Blue Angel F-18 Hornet. My friends and family thought I would be disappointed by the protocol. It was the opposite. Instead of watching through a small viewfinder, my eyes were wide open to breathtaking views. Unbelievable. Returning to Cherry Capital Airport, we buzzed the air station and pulled a 7.5 G turn. I saw tunnel vision for a brief moment, but I did not pass out, surprised at not being sick after the ride of my life And it WAS the ride of my life. Would I ever fly with them again if I was offered the chance? No. I would never want to take the seat of a future flight invitee. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.

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The Blue Angels 75 Anniversary th

By E. Malik

Photos from Wikimedia Commons


earning to fly has always been humankind’s number one passion. Only a few live the thrill of forced G’s on their body propelled by a simple hand movement on the throttle. In common folk, being a pilot is to be in a Hollywood movie. However, in the same film itself, there is a special breed of pilots that are hailed high above most. We are talking about none other than the Blue Angels, the ace of the ace in the US Naval Flight Demonstration Squad. With the coronavirus outbreak, the annual program got hampered, but time & a virus will not stop their march towards the 75th year of inception. The Blues were initiated by the Chief of Naval Operations’ executive order in 1946 with Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat aircraft and is now equipped with the Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The same will be replaced by the latest F/A-18E Hornets currently being modified by Boeing for this unique mission. The year 2021 will be all blue with a 75-year celebration of the Blue Angels.

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Mission The Blue Angels have a particular mission and goal in sight, which is defined as “to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to the country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.” Brief History Over the decades, the Blue Angels have been equipped with different aircraft. The only thing that has remained constant is the maneuvers as a similar set is still followed by the four group formation aircraft and two solo ones. The seventh dual seat aircraft has the announcer who gradually moves into the flying team during the next two years.

A brief history of equipment flown over the decade is as follows: 1946-59 The first ten demonstrations took place with Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, which was then replaced by the faster and more agile F8F-1 Bearcats. The Bearcats were then replaced by F9F-5 panthers that continued even during the Korean war. After the summer of 1953, the team started performing with F9F6 panthers. By the end of the decade and some more changes, the team finally settled down on the supersonic Grumman F11F-1 Tigers. 1960-69 This decade was one of the most progressive times for the Blues as they performed all across Europe and earned many standing ovations. They flew most of the decade with Tigers but shifted to F-4 Phantom II by the end of the decade.

1970-79 Lockheed C-130 was the first time included in the Blue Angels entourage as well as the air shows. In 1974, the Angels shifted to Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II and expanded their wings to South America and Asia. 1980-89 The Blues shifted to their present aircraft, the Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The aircraft’s aerodynamic nature and thrust to weight ratio allowed the team to display maneuvers that were dreams before for any acrobat team. They flew the F-18s for four decades, hitting significant milestones along the way. 2020 and beyond Boeing is in the process of modifying 7 F/A-18E Hornets that will be used by the Blues from the start of 2021. Do not miss out on their spectacular show if they are in town. The Future Tour Program is depicted below for all aviation enthusiasts.

Do not miss this golden opportunity to watch the Blues rip through the skies near you and be a part of the 75-year celebration of a tradition cherished in the United States of America.

According to Wikipedia: The Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron was formed in 1946 by the United States Navy. The Blue Angels’ Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets (numbered 1–6) are currently flown by five Navy demonstration pilots and one Marine Corps demonstration pilot. The Blue Angels typically perform aerial displays annually in at least 60 shows at 30 locations throughout the United States and two shows at one location in Canada. The “Blues” still employ many of the same practices and techniques used in the inaugural 1946 season. An estimated 11 million spectators view the squadron during air shows from March through November each year. Members of the Blue Angels team also visit more than 50,000 people in schools, hospitals, and community functions at air show cities. Since 1946, the Blue Angels have flown for more than 505 million spectators.

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The Blue Angels in Northern Michigan Photos by John Russell Blue Angel Facts from www.blueangels.navy.mil/

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What is the closest distance that the jets fly to each other? The closest the diamond will fly to each other is 18 inches during the Diamond 360 maneuver.

Where did the name “Blue Angels” originate? The original team picked the name when they were planning a show in New York in 1946. One of them came across the name of the city’s famous Blue Angel nightclub in the New Yorker Magazine.

Why is the C-130 called “Fat Albert?” “Fat Albert” is a nickname given to the plane by Marine Corps Blue Angel pilots in the 1970s because of its size and shape. It is a reference to the popular children’s cartoon of the same era.

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4 Lifestyle Medicine Tips to Reclaiming Your Life ‘Reverse disease, get your strength and confidence back.’


By Dr. Chris Moran, Owner of Traverse City Knee and Shoulder Solutions

ver the past 30 years, we have helped hundreds of people take back their lives and live to the fullest in every sense. We know what it’s like to have fallen into a sedentary and generally unhealthy lifestyle that results in obesity, fatigue, negative thoughts, heart disease, arthritis, and other physical afflictions. While many of these chronic health ‘dis-eases’ can take a year or more to reverse to the point of seeing improved

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diagnostic results, most often, there are immediate results that you can feel within the first week. Recent discoveries into how the body heals and resists disease present us with the opportunity to understand and achieve real results in our mental and physical health and is as simple as “turning on” health-promoting gene expression and “turning off” disease-producing genes. This process begins within days to weeks of starting the

4 lifestyle changes we will be talking about. According to Dean Ornish, MD, and his research, these ‘nutrigenomic changes’ actually occur quickly to begin reversing chronic diseases, including prostate cancer and heart disease. Dr. Wes Youngberg is showing the same thing is valid with diabetes. These profound changes that literally change our health course happen because of the diet and lifestyle choices we make, either consciously or unconsciously.

It all starts with what we put into our mouths Overwhelming scientific evidence exists regarding the long term health benefits of including much more plant-based foods in our diet than we currently do as Americans. Increasing consumption of fruits, green leafy vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans, and raw nuts and seeds has the effect of strengthening our immune system, eliminating fatigue and brain fog, normalizing moods, enhancing sleep quality, and reversing chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Of course, extra pounds fall away when consuming lower-calorie, nutrient-dense plant foods while not counting calories or restricting amounts of food (exceptions for calorie-dense nuts and seeds). Get Moving Walking just 30-minutes each day can have a profound effect on our health and sense of well being. As strength and endurance build, so does a healthy immune system, oxygen utilization by muscles and brain, even stem cell activity becomes more robust. Stem cells are found within the bone marrow and wrapped around every capillary, waiting for the cues that tell them to mobilize to areas of inflammation and begin the process of healing. This stem cell activity is how muscles get larger and stronger after each bout of exercise, given adequate nutrients in the diet along with enough rest. We read every day how exercise makes bones and muscles stronger, increases coordination, helps us burn calories and lose weight. Exercise also gives us an emotional boost through the production of endorphins, decreases chronic inflammation through better oxygen

utilization, fights against anxiety, depression, and panic, and provides better mental focus and clarity. In other words, regular exercise makes us look and feel better while increasing our confidence and improving balance to prevent falls. Getting started and remaining consistent with activity is the key. Here are some helpful hints on how we can achieve the consistency we all need to take advantage of exercise physiology’s natural wonders. What are some sports you participated in as a kid that you enjoyed? Football? Wrestling? Baseball? Running? How about in the service when you were in the best physical shape of your life? How can you link back to those times in your life when being active was actually fun? Local gyms now provide activities from beginner to elite in cross-fit training, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training, masters swimming, and triathlon training. Basketball and softball leagues are still popular. Registering for a 5 or 10 K running event is a great way to kick in the competitive juices and focus your energy. The NRA still has competitive shooting events around the country. What are some of your favorite hobbies or sports? Competition is a great way to get active and be accountable for showing up.

Maybe bird hunting, hiking, or other outdoor recreation activities are more your thing. There are even programs out there where you can get a companion animal like a dog who can keep you company and keep you moving together. Many organizations exist that will help you train your dog for hunting, search and rescue, water rescue, and obstacle course. The point is, thinking “out of the box” when it comes to getting more active is a fun way to experience the benefits of becoming physically fit while not having it feel like PT-hell every morning. To Be Continued… Diet and exercise are just two essential health strategies that should be lifestyle choices for us to get back to being mentally and physically fit like when we were younger. Our brains still have the same desires, and frankly, it doesn’t believe we can’t do the things we did when we were 19 or 20 years old! Take that first step and connect with a like-minded buddy or find one at a local gym and start with two simple goals: to do something to get moving every day and enjoy more colorful plant foods at every meal.

Dr. Moran is a Chiropractic Physician and specializes in neurology. Traverse City Knee and Shoulder Solutions is located at 3639 Cass Rd in Traverse City, Michigan. (231) 943-2100

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John Zangoulas, Patriot Place Director

sponsored by Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region.

Off The Streets And On Their Feet Patriot Place In Gaylord Is More Than Housing – It’s a Fresh Start By Mike Kent


eff* was a veteran of the first Persian Gulf War with a problem. Living in the state’s thumb area, he spent most of his days on the streets — he was homeless. There was no place to protect him against the harsh Michigan weather. His plight was not temporary — it was chronic. He would occasionally find some respite out of the elements, but eventually he would be back out on the same streets again. He was facing his leftover demons from his war experiences, and the demons were winning. Eventually, Jeff traveled to Gaylord. He found a roadmap out of homelessness; he found the Patriot Place. In this place, he had a roof over his head for a year. He found even more. Jeff

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found a way to face and defeat his demons. “He’s doing really good,” says John Zangoulas, Patriot Place Director. “He’s living independently in his own apartment. We got him disability benefits with Social Security. And because he can’t work, he does volunteer work to give back because of what the program did for him.” Jeff is just one of the hundreds of men that found their way off the streets and into a life with their own home and a renewed sense of purpose. Patriot Place opened in 2011 as temporary housing for homeless veterans. The men are allowed to live here for up to two years. They are assigned one of the eight neat homes that house up to four people each. They have rules to follow, but they also have the chance to turn their lives around.

While at Patriot Place, the veterans have a wide variety of programs available to them. These programs address the root causes of homelessness. They range from substance abuse, divorce, job loss, and mental health problems associated with PTSD. “If you truly want to make a difference and you want to change your life, this is the perfect place to help them get back on their feet,” says Zangoulas. But while Zangoulas is confident Patriot Place can be life-changing, he laments that not everyone is a success story. “We can provide all the tools, but we can’t make them use the tools.” He says it’s hard work. They have a lot of veterans shackled to substance abuse, and many can break those chains. “It rests with the individual. They have to commit to kicking their substance abuse. If they can do that, we can lead them to success.” The Patriot Place track record is strong. They claim 85-percent of their residents have a positive outcome. They are able to get into permanent housing and successfully live on their own. With a capacity of 24 men, space is limited. They get the vast majority of their residents from agency referrals. They are not always at capacity, but there is always a need, and they are always near capacity. Patriot Place was built with the help of Federal Grants and is owned and operated by Goodwill of Northern Michigan. But northern Michigan residents have also embraced the housing program. Zangoulas says federal funding for their program puts limitations on where they can spend their money. The community helps out with food donations, clothing, and money. It may be surprising, but even a donation of pop cans can help. Residents can redeem the cans and use the money for purchasing food, personal hygiene items, or little luxuries.

Veterans or their supporters can contact their local county veteran service office to find out more about Patriot Place. Or call Patriot Place directly at (989) 448-2260. * Full name not given to protect his identity


VETERANS Contact Kathleen English 231-941-4663 x321 kenglish@HabitatGTR.org

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Hog Wild

Bomber Incident Written By Tom Dalluge (with Terry Rainey – Bob Rainey’s Son)

Dad is pictured with a Russian Yak-3 fighter. ssification y Air Forces Cla rm A e th at ed ur Dad pict ille, Tennessee. Center in Nashv


had known Bob Rainey my whole life. He was the town insurance agent and represented our small Illinois farming community on the county board. Bob came to town as a teacher and coach. Bob was one of those community stalwarts that knitted together the civic bindings of thousands of American communities in the post-World War II universe. I knew he was brave; it took a special kind of bravery to be my sister’s driver education instructor, especially with a stick shift, but until the late 1990s, literally nobody knew the depths of that bravery. The movie Saving Private Ryan is credited with encouraging many veterans of that era to speak openly of their war experiences finally. So it was that in 1997, Bob shared a tale of a little known post-Japanese

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surrender event that riveted our community.

supplies housed in the huge plane’s bomb bays.

After dropping two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hostilities with Japan had ended on August 14, 1945. Rainey was a B-29 co-pilot stationed on Saipan. He had flown numerous missions since arriving the previous fall. Rainey and his bomber crew named Hogwild were awakened at 1:30 on the morning of August 29, 1945. Their mission was to fly relief aid consisting of clothing, food, and medicines to a British and Australian POW camp in what is now North Korea. After a stop in Iwo Jima for fuel and breakfast, the crew approached the Korean coast at 1:00 PM. The weather was terrible, and the crew struggled to find the camp. As they sought their target, they readied the drums of

But as the plane cruised at 1500 feet, the Hogwild gained aerial company in the form of two Russian Yak fighters. The pilots looked at one another, and the Hogwild circled, still looking for the camp. Suddenly, there were four Yaks, and they lowered their landing gear, a sign that the B29 was to land at the postage-stamp-sized camp landing strip. The Hogwild crew’s concern grew, and finally, the mission was aborted. About ten miles out over the Sea of Japan, one of the Yaks opened fire and took out the first and second engines. The pilots instructed the crew to bail out, and seven members parachuted into the water. Rainey and three remaining crew turned the

at busy year of in 1944. During th Photographs of Dad lds in Florida, tioned at five air fie training, he was sta e out buildings a. Judging from th Georgia, or Alabam right appears , the photo on the in the background aps at his in a rural are4 perh to have been taken outside Maroa. grandfather’s farm

This is a Lint Tr ainer on dispta y at the Flight SafetylB oeing Training Center in Tutr wih, WA. The photograph above shows a Link Trainer that was a paf,t of his pr imary training while stationed at Dor rField, Florida. (The ph oto was downl oaded from http : //www. li nhrainers. com /)

disabled craft back and crash-landed at the camp. The crew hustled to safety. Shortly they were met by Russian camp security that took them to a control tower and locked them inside. The seven members who had bailed out were rescued by fishermen and reunited with the pilots. The crew was taken to the camp where the sound of English from the Brits and Aussies was welcome. The downing of an American bomber by ally Russia made newspapers, but the story quickly died away. Dialogue between military and diplomatic channels continued on the fate of the crew. Finally, on September 25, the crew was released after 25 days of captivity. Until he died, Bob Rainey felt that the Hogwild Incident occurred because

Dad rain ed PT-17 “K in a Stearman aydet,” w hile stationed at in Arcad Dorr Field ia, photo w Florida. (The as down loaded from hup ://www. ae randolph . af. mil/ tc. h o changeV ajt- I 3. h /upt_ tm)

ind Standing beh TP a Stearman ld, ie F 17 at Dorr is ad Florida, D o joined by tw n-i ts other pilo training.

of a trigger itchy Soviet pilot. It was not uncommon for the crew to agree not to disclose all aspects of their missions. Other rationales have been offered over the years, including an intelligence component to the mission. The POW camp was a uranium mining plant essential to Japan’s equivalent of the Manhattan Project. Still, others point to the questions asked of the crew about the controls and design of the plane while in captivity. Several years later, the USSR unveiled the TU35 long-range bomber with a strikingly similar cockpit. Perhaps at some point, additional material will be declassified that may shed more light on the Hogwild Incident. The events of August 29, 1945, are arguably the first “hot” event of the Cold War and portended the continued unraveling of the

relationship between the two allies. For the crew, the incident sealed a bond that would last the rest of their lives. Over the years, reunions were held, and this past spring, the last crew member passed away. Like many of his generation, Bob Rainey returned from the war and went on with his life. He married Dorothy (Dot) and became the father of three children, who brought him great pride and joy. Like many of his peers, the scenes of devastation left an indelible mark and cemented the civic drive that became a life passion. In his late 70’s, Bob lamented the fact that we had still not come to terms with how to deal peacefully with one another. And perhaps most of all, Bob Rainey shared his story, a true Cold War tale that should never be forgotten.

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Vigilante Justice Or Just Justice

John Wemlinger probes question in new book: “The Widow And The Warrior” By Mike Kent


on’t expect John Wemlinger to serve you up a feast. He’s not creating a buffet for you to explore the excess of gluttony. No, Wemlinger parses out just enough information, just enough story to keep you starving. You want more. You are not satiated. Northern Michigan author John Wemlinger has published his fourth book called The Widow and the Warrior. He writes in a genre he calls a military romance. But don’t let that style deceive you. You won’t find a maiden with windswept, long-flowing hair

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being whisked off to some remote island in a flurry of passion. Instead, Wemlinger has his deeply flawed characters dive into political corruption, white supremacy cults, power, and greed. At stake is a billion-dollar family fortune that could be cursed. The characters take you to the depth of the Dixie south, the

heat of battle in Afghanistan, and to the nation’s capital. But the story is centered in northern Michigan and the unforgiving winter isolation in the Upper Peninsula. Northern Michigan residents will resonate with key moments happening at Storm Cloud Brewing Company, along with Frankfort’s old homes or on the shores of Lake Michigan.

In 2012, he began writing his first novel, Winter’s Bloom. Published in 2016 the book achieved regional bestseller status in northwest Michigan. His second novel, Operation Light Switch was published in 2017 and was a finalist in Foreword Reviews’ Indies Book Award for that year. His third novel, published in 2019, Before the Snow Flies, won a third-place award in The Colorado Independent Publishers’ Association’s annual EVVY Book Awards and a Silver Award in Foreword Reviews’ Indies Book of the Year competition. He writes about what he knows best and that is the American veteran. His fourth novel, The Widow and the Warrior, is set in Frankfort, Michigan, was released in September 2020.

That tie-in to small-town America is very intentional. “I focus on settings that are Americana,” says Wemlinger. “I set these big issues in small towns. This doesn’t just happen in New York City. It can happen in your little town, where you know everybody and everybody knows you.” Wemlinger is a retired Army Colonel and pursued writing long after his 27-year military

career. He decided to write about what he knows. What he knows is not only military life but also the challenges faced after military service. He dips his toes into current events and the political climate. In each of his previous books, Wemlinger tackled hot issues such as PTSD, veteran suicides, and the uncertainty of military justice. In this book, he walks a tight line between right and

John Wemlinger was presented the “Quilt of Valor” in Onekama, MI, by Bert Murphy, a Staff Sergeant from the Vietnam War. Bath/Haslett Veteran Quilters created the quilt in Michigan. The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.

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wrong when soldiers resort to vigilante justice. The good guys are not always good, and the bad guys are not always bad. Despite the flaws of the main character, Wemlinger weaves in others who have suffered the death of loved ones in war. The author uses this book and his characters to highlight the challenges faced by everyone who gives of themselves to serve in the military. “I’ve decided that my message is going to be about veterans and military service,” says Wemlinger. “My message

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is not just to veterans; my broader audience is the civilian world. I want them to understand and appreciate the sacrifices that our veterans make for the benefit of our country.” Wemlinger says that recognition is even more important since everyone who serves in the military is a volunteer. While Wemlinger has a higher calling to his writing, his story doesn’t get bogged down into a preachy sermon. The Widow and the Warrior tells a captivating story and, even at the end, will leave you hungry for more.

My message is not just to veterans; my broader audience is the civilian world. I want them to understand and appreciate the sacrifices that our veterans make for the benefit of our country.”

Thoughts on Becoming a Writer


By John Wemlinger

he beginning of 1999 found me at a rather low spot in my life. I had divorced after a long-term marriage. I returned from Singapore, where I’d been working for nearly three years, with everything I owned packed in two suitcases. I was done with logistics, burnt out, would be the accurate description, and wanted to find work in higher education. I felt I had some skills that would be valuable there. Bless her heart, my daughter allowed me to move in with her until I found what I was looking for, and that took a while. In July 1999, I arrived in Battle Creek, Michigan, where Davenport University hired me to run two of their regional campuses. In August, I attended a Chamber of Commerce mixer to introduce myself to the community and begin building Davenport’s brand. It was there that Diane and I met. She’d just left her job as an executive with a wellrecognized employment agency and was looking to open the next chapter of her life. There was an immediate connection, and we were married on Veterans Day, 2000. Diane inspired me to write at a time when I needed some inspiration. The events of 9/11/2001 found me disillusioned. I was not happy with the university’s leadership, and I felt helpless in the wake of what I

believe is my generation’s equivalent of Pearl Harbor. A trained counselor, Diane, suggested that I take writing back up. I had dabbled with a book and had read parts of it to her. “It might be very therapeutic,” I recall her saying to me. She has stood solidly by me and is the first editor of everything I am prepping for publication. My writing is also inspired by the millions of America’s sons and daughters who have stepped up to the challenge of military service since 9/11 plunged us into wars in Afghanistan, first, and, then, Iraq. Now, as I work on my 5th novel, this one involving a Civil War Vet, I believe that it doesn’t matter which war it may have been; it is our young men and women who make the most significant sacrifices. And so, I will continue to write about them, to tell their stories, in an effort to give every one that reads any of my books a sense of what our great veterans have given, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice, for our country.

John enjoys time with his wife, Diane, and their border collie, Sydney. Perhaps their favorite activity is hiking the numerous and beautiful trails and beaches that dot northwest Michigan. He lives in Onekama where he tends to his yard and garden. An avid golfer, he enjoys playing with Diane and other friends on any of the area’s magnificent courses.

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How a Spending Plan Saves Money and Reduces Stress By Jeffrey W. Beebe

Managing monthly finances can be stressful for families of all sizes and income levels. While most people intuitively know a monthly budget can help, many do not know where to begin. A monthly budget is your monthly Spending Plan and is the most fundamental element of a solid overall financial plan. A Spending Plan gives you the confidence to know when to say ‘yes’ to spending and when to say ‘no’. This alone can go a long way to reducing the stress of managing the monthly finances.

make consistently. If you want to experience the joy of giving and helping others financially, you need to spend less than you earn. If you’re going to rid yourself of the bondage of monthly payments on credit cards and other debts, you need to spend less than you make. If you want to avoid taking on new debt, you need to spend less than you earn. An intentional spending plan that you diligently live by will help you spend less than you make so you can experience the joy and freedom of spending on things that are truly meaningful to you! HOW TO GET STARTED In its most basic form, a spending plan is simply your income minus your expenses, with the goal being a bottom line that equals exactly zero. That means you have intentionally given every dollar of your income a specific purpose before you even get paid.

BENEFITS OF A SPENDING PLAN The main benefit of a spending plan is it can help you spend less than you make.

Most people know their income pretty well. The challenge is determining expenses for a given month. While some expenses are consistent from month to month, many are not.

We need to recognize that we all have an income limit. If you want to save for things like retirement, a home, a bigger home, a newer car, a vacation, an emergency fund, etc., you need to spend less than you

Tracking your expenses is critical, especially if you have never budgeted before. If you use a credit or debit card for the majority of your spending, a good place to start for determining your expenses is to

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review your credit card and bank statements to see where you have been spending your money. For your cash spending, keeping a small notebook to record cash expenditures has been helpful to many. Keeping envelopes with cash and replacing the cash with receipts, then totaling those receipts at the end of the week is another way to track where your money is going. BUDGET PERCENTAGES GUIDELINES A simple Google search for budget percentages will produce lots of resources to pick from. Remember that these percentages are guidelines only; they are not the 3rd tablet that Moses couldn’t carry down the mountain! No matter which guideline you use, every Spending Plan needs to start with the five basic needs that absolutely must be paid for every month, no matter what! Those categories, and what I use as recommended percentages of your Take-Home pay for each category, are as follows: »» Food - 15% »» Medical Expenses - 0 - 10% »» Shelter (Mortgage or Rent plus Utilities) - 35%-40% »» Transportation - 10-15% »» Clothing - 5-10% If you are over in a category or three, that may be ok as it merely means that you will need

If you look at your saving account and see $1,500 in there, you can’t just have a party with it because you know it’s there for a specific purpose. to be under in other categories to make your Spending Plan balance. If you are significantly over in a particular category, that is a good indication that you are overspending on that category. Food is a category that I have difficulty putting on a percentage. The cost of groceries depends upon where you live and how many people are in your household. Where I live in northern Michigan, when I suggest $125 per month per household member, I seem to have an equal number of families tell me that they don’t spend anywhere near that much on food. An equal amount of families tell me there is no way that can do it on that little. Since both sides’ pushback seems to be about equal, I feel like it is probably a good starting point on average for our area. Medical expense is another category that is difficult to put on a percentage. You either have medical expenses, or you don’t. If you have medical expenses, you probably don’t have much choice in the costs of your prescriptions or how much your co-pays and deductibles are. Clothing is a category that many people do not spend on every month. But if you can use your spending plan to set aside a certain amount every month, when it’s time to purchase clothing, it will be there when you need it. Other common nonmonthly expenses that it helps to set money aside for every month might be certain insurance premiums, vehicle registrations, pet care, hair care, vacations, etc.

MONEY & MARRIAGE Opposites have a way of attracting, and when it comes to finances, a spender will often marry a saver. Each financial personality has its strengths and weaknesses. If we can learn to value our spouse’s strengths while recognizing our own weaknesses, we have a powerful tool for financial unity in marriage. Savers tend to be ‘nerds’ who like working with numbers. They are planners and organizers. They feel joy when they see the financial accounts getting bigger. They love to see money working for them through compound interest. Their weaknesses are that out of the desire to see their financial accounts grow; they can gravitate towards a ‘hermit’ lifestyle and miss out on some very meaningful life experiences. Spenders tend to be ‘free spirits’ who want to live life to the full! They are fun-loving and spontaneous. Planning, organization, and numbers are not their thing. As a result, spending more than they make is common, leading to overwhelming debt and no savings for retirement. Is it possible for nerd savers and free-spirit spenders to have

shared goals and arrive at a place of unity with the family finances? The answer is yes, but like anything in marriage, it takes work and sacrifice. It requires love for each other to find a middle place where both of you have a voice, a place you can earn each other’s trust, where you get some of what you want, and both parties are satisfied. By loving each other enough to give up a little of your desires to satisfy your spouse’s desires, by developing a system that encourages open communication about each other’s wishes, and that leverages each other’s strengths, financial unity within marriage is achievable. It can even be a place where your love for each other can flourish! Jesus said that ‘your treasure is where your heart is’. If we can agree on what we do with our’ treasure’, our hearts will be beating in unison. Believe it or not, when this happens, we may end up developing a more profound love for each other than we knew was even possible, all from working together to create a Spending Plan. Weird, huh? SPOUSAL PLANNING MEETING So what is a good process for coming together as husband and wife to develop financial unity within our marriages? We simply have to schedule a time to meet together, whether it’s once a week, every payday, or at least once a month until things start to click. And as the month progresses, understand that if your financial life unfolds drastically different than how you thought it would, you may need to have an ‘emergency’ meeting on occasion.

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Here are some basic guidelines for a Spousal Planning Meeting: 1. The nerd saver prepares the first draft of the Spending Plan. They’re the one that enjoys the numbers the most, so they’re the one that should be preparing the plan. The nerd brings the plan they have prepared to the meeting. The Spending Plan is the nerd’s say in how they believe the month’s income should be handled. It’s now time for the nerd to be quiet and listen to their freespirit spouse. 2. The Free-Spirit spender then reviews the nerd’s Spending Plan and gets to make suggestions for changes, like ‘there’s not enough money for groceries’. 3. The nerd now has the right to respond by saying, “if we increase spending on groceries, then we need to reduce spending on something else to keep the plan in balance. What category do you suggest we reduce?” As the discussion unfolds and goes back and forth, the end goal is that we offset each other’s extremes and take advantage of each other’s financial strengths. Each spouse has a say in the monthly spending, so no one uses the budget as a ‘paper club’ to control the other spouse. Once an agreement has been made and committed to by both spouses, the likelihood of unrestrained spending should be reduced or eliminated as well.

The end result is probably that neither spouse will be completely happy, but with both spouses’ participation, we’ve found a solution that we can both live with. We have both given valuable input and had our voices heard, we both get some of what we want, and out of love, we have both denied ourselves a little bit to set reasonable spending limits based on our income. An opportunity for trust can be built over time as each spouse commits and lives by the plan created together. CLOTHING TO THE RESCUE! I’ll give an example from my own life. I am the nerd saver in my house, and my wife is the freespirit spender. One of her favorite things to spend money on is clothing. I, on the other hand, would rather you stake me down to the desert floor with my eyelids stapled open and leave me there to die than have you torture me by making me go clothes shopping! In the early days of our marriage, I realized this would be an area of conflict for the rest of our lives! Then we began doing Spousal Planning meetings. We went back and forth on how much income to assign to clothing each month and came up with a number we could both live with. We agreed one night that I would stay home with the kids so she could go clothes shopping. We had set aside $300 over time for her to spend. She made her list, left for a few hours, and returned with bags and bags of clothing

purchases. I thought for sure she had spent way more than what we had agreed on. She then began proudly showing me each item she had bought, like a hunter showing off her ‘kill’. She explained how she had found something on a clearance rack, used a coupon, or it happened to be on sale. Once she was finished, she handed me $100 in cash. When I asked her what the money was, she said it was the amount left over. She admitted that even though her shopping list was finished, she was tempted to spend it all anyway since we had already agreed together that she could spend it. But she decided instead that she would rather hold onto it until we actually needed it. That was the moment that I realized I could really trust her. Then I realized the blessing it was for me to be married to someone who likes to spend money on clothing when I despise it so much. If I need clothes, I just let her know what I need, and she’ll buy it. She’s happy because she gets to go clothes shopping, and I’m thrilled because I don’t! How awesome is that? STAYING THE COURSE Once you have a system in place for creating your Spending Plan, you also need a method to keep you accountable to the plan you have made. There are several ways of doing this. The old-fashioned but proven way is to use cash envelopes for the expenses that are easy to impulse on, like food and clothing. Once

The old-fashioned but proven way is to use cash envelopes for the expenses that are easy to impulse on, like food and clothing. 30 – GATHER Veterans

you have agreed on your Spending Plan, you take the amount you have budgeted for food and put it in an envelope marked ‘food’. You can spend all you want to on food until the envelope is empty. Once it’s empty, you can’t spend any more on food until the envelope is replenished with your next paycheck. It’s relatively simple, and it works! Today there are computer-based ways of doing the same thing, possibly through your bank’s online system. If you don’t like using cash, you can use ‘online envelopes’ to keep your debit and credit card purchases in line with your Spending Plan. A common system to better prepare for non-weekly and nonmonthly expenses is by using your bank checking and savings accounts. Using monthly rent or mortgage payments as an example, if you get paid twice a month and your mortgage is $1,000 per month, transfer $500 from the first paycheck of the month into the savings account, then another $500 from the second paycheck. When the

mortgage payment is due, the $1,000 is there and ready to be used for its budget. You can do this for other categories, like monthly utilities, quarterly insurance premiums, and yearly vacations. Money in the savings account is off-limits because it has been set aside for a specific purpose. If you look at your saving account and see $1,500 in there, you can’t just have a party with it because you know it’s there for a specific purpose. Use your checking account for your day-today and week-to-week expenses. SUMMARY There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to managing your monthly expenses, but I hope the information here has stimulated some thought that can be a useful guide as you design a system that works for you and your family. I would love to connect with you if you have any questions, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can reach me at Jeff@ ChristianFamilyFinancial.com or by calling 231-642-8001. Happy Spending!

Jeffrey W. Beebe, CFP®, is the founder and owner of Christian Family Financial, a financial planning firm located in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. Jeff is a Certified Kingdom Advisor™ and Planned Giving Consultant and has been working in the financial planning industry since 2003. He founded Christian Family Financial in 2015 to help people ‘Make Money Meaningful’ with their investments by specializing in ValuesBased Investing from a Biblical perspective and Planned Giving. Securities & investment advice through G.A. Repple & Co., a registered Broker/Dealer & Investment Advisor; Member FINRA & SIPC. Supervisory Office: 13 Chase Dr, Hurricane, West Virginia 25526. Phone: 304-760-8715.

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Creator: Jack Brauer Copyright: © Jack Brauer https://www.mountainphotography.com/photo/buffalo-head-morning/

If you love the outdoors, it’s easy to get caught up in its beauty and adventure and forget about the worries of life. My soul is invigorated when I’m looking over Lake Michigan atop of the Sleeping Bear Dunes or traversing through the Boardman River valley in northern Michigan. I have even pretended to be lost on a “deserted island” while vacationing with my wife on Florida’s coast. 32 – GATHER Veterans


’ve been blessed to have witnessed so many different outdoor experiences that whisked my stresses and fears away like chaff. The blessing may be good most of the time, but sometimes the results of releasing your worries and anxieties while indulging in God’s creation can create a strange paradox of what-if’s. This paradox is true of one of my many adventures in Canada.

My son and I pressed our chests against the cliff and inched our way to level ground on the other side.

For many years, our family traveled to Batchawana Bay, Ontario, to enjoy the Lake Superior shoreline and the rolling mountains, and the region’s deep Boreal forests. We met up with friends who were way more adventurous than I. The whole family - kids and all - were used to climbing rocky cliffs and diving off into the cold water below. My friend Dan asked me if all the guys would like to climb a rocky outcropping called Buffalo Head mountain. Without overthinking, I agreed, and we set off full of adventure. At first, the climb seemed easy, and reaching the top seemed like an amateur task since the peak couldn’t be more than a thousand feet at most. Midway through the climb, we ran into a wall of rock rising above the treetops. Skinny ledges tracked across its sheer face, and I could see gravel and stones all over them. One of the dads in the group refused to cross the face and took his boys back to the mountain base, but I, being lost in the adventure, didn’t consider the dangers and followed Dan and his boys across the face. My son and I pressed our chests against the cliff and inched our way to level ground on the other side. We could see the waves of Lake Superior lapping the shoreline hundreds of feet below. Eventually, thank God, we made it to the top of Buffalo Head mountain. After a picture at the top and another harrowing descent, we hugged our families and made our way back to the cabin. Interestingly enough, my memories don’t go back to the magnificent vista atop the mountain but to the “what-if’s” of the adventure. No doubt, it was beyond beautiful, but my mind reminds me of the risk I took with my only son. A quick reality check before losing yourself in nature’s beauty may afford you a few more nights of sleep and fewer reminders from your wife about your sensibility.

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Veteran Owned

True North Counseling By Amanda Renkiewicz If the idea of speaking to a therapist on a couch in a small office sends you running for the woods, you have a good chance of finding veteran therapist Eric LaPaugh out in that forest, having sessions among the trees and beauty of nature. Eric isn’t your traditional therapist: he’s a Wilderness Therapist.

one’s whole self,” Eric explains. “Walking and taking in nature requires your brain to be mindful and to stay engaged in the present moment. Mindfulness and nature have been shown to significantly help those suffering from PTSD and emotional stress.”


s the owner of True North Counseling, Eric has brought a nopressure, rare sense of serenity to wellness. True North Counseling is unique in their approach: they offer walk and talk counseling therapy sessions in the woods, near a stream, or along the lakeshore. “We stress the importance of the human connection to not only family and community but to nature and thereby

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True North Counseling also offers adventure therapy trips or wilderness therapy trips. “In the past, we’ve taken groups of teens to the Manitou Islands and had men’s groups and women’s groups for both camping and backpacking. While on these trips, we work on building self-esteem, selfreliance, communication, connection with peers and nature, mindfulness, and more. I’d love to put together a veteran’s adventure therapy trip someday soon!” Eric adds. Eric’s first views of the military came from admiring his family members in service. “I can remember looking up to them and noticing how they had changed from pre-boot camp

to post-boot camp. They stood and walked taller; they seemed more focused, confident, and respectful to themselves and others. That’s what I wanted out of the Marine Corps, that and the challenge.” He proudly served as a Marine from 1999-2003. Returning home, however, wasn’t a struggle to reconnect with others, but a difficulty in finding purpose. “When I got back, I remember feeling a little (a lot) bored, unmotivated, and lost. I no longer had a structured schedule, or a squad leader motivating me, or my brothers to keep me active and engaged. That’s when the selfdoubt creeps in, and depression can take hold,” he recalls. “Luckily, I had an amazing girlfriend, now wife, who helped to motivate me. I had some family and friends to keep me engaged, and I got a job and signed up to go to college.” While many veterans have personal experiences with PTSD and trauma through their deployments, Eric’s was from

It was the woods that would comfort me and embrace me. childhood. “My experiences are from a much younger age when, for a time, I grew up in a home with alcoholism, domestic violence, and abuse,” Eric says. “PTSD signs and symptoms can be different for each individual, and it took me a long time to even realize that I had PTSD and to understand that I needed help. I had a great school counselor who helped me tremendously and a couple of family members who supported and inspired me. Looking back now, knowing what I know now, I can see that I turned to the forest and the woods in my backyard to escape from the trauma I would witness and experience. It was the woods that would comfort me and embrace me. Spending time playing in the woods is shown to improve a child’s and adult’s mental health significantly. It reduces our blood pressure, relaxes our mind, and relieves our stress.” True North Counseling offers help for anyone working on their wellness journey, and Eric’s background gives him greater empathy and understanding for those in the military. “For my fellow veterans who deal with PTSD, I would recommend finding a professional that you feel a connection with and that you can talk to. Find a local veteran’s group to be a part of, and get involved by

volunteering, going to school, or getting any job because it’ll be the connections and interactions with your peers and family that will help the most,” Eric recommends. As for his own time as a therapist, one story stays with him. “There have been many success stories over the years, but the one that I remember the most was a young man dealing with severe social anxiety and low self-esteem, self-worth, and generally just feeling lost in his early 20’s. After working with him for over a year, this young man finally followed his

dream of moving to Colorado and becoming a Chef. Well, I’m proud to say that he has been out there for the past four years following his dream.” When asked his favorite quote, Eric responded, “Good question! I love motivational quotes and share one every day on my Facebook page to start the day with a positive mindset. If I had to choose just one, though, it would be, “It’s better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.” That’s my favorite quote because many people are surprised to find out that I am a Marine and a mental health counselor,” Eric says with a smile. True North Counseling 200 W. 11th St. Suite 217 Traverse City, MI 49684 (231) 342-5232

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New Beginnings! Written By Brad Giglio - Owner/Coach Crossfit Due North

The alarm goes off, bringing me out of my sound sleep in my very comfortable bed. I grunt and groan a bit as I slowly pull the covers off me and place my feet on the floor. There is a big sigh, and then I stand up to start my day.


t is New Year’s resolution time, and I am waking up to follow through with the new goals I have set for myself. It is 2011, and I just recently separated from the Army in July of 2010. I remember very distinctly saying to myself; I am never going to wake up early to run ever again. Yet here I am about to do that very thing. What is it about New Years’ that makes us want to create these goals to change who we are? Somehow this new habit is going to be the answer to all our problems, right? Maybe it is saving money, losing a few pounds,

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exercising, or eating differently. We rush out the door at some point to buy a $10/month gym membership that we may barely use because, in some way, this year is going to be different. In reality, 98% of New Year’s resolutions fail – an actual tracked fact. What makes a difference with the 2% of people who do make it and make it stick? It’s the mindset! I know, easier said than done. I want to talk about B.A.M (bare ass minimum). How can this help me with a resolution or having a positive mindset? It is simple; it allows us to create balance. Whether you are looking

to save more money or drop more weight or anything in between, it doesn’t happen overnight. Not doing anything and saving every penny can be miserable. Eating plain chicken and steamed broccoli can take its toll on us mentally and can become incredibly stale. It can be so dull and bland that we begin to resent it and no longer want any part of it. Having a B.A.M. can be the solution. Having a bare ass minimum is just a small piece of a larger goal, but it is much more attainable and helps us keep our sanity. Let me explain. B.A.M. is something that we are willing to do every day or every week to work towards our goal. There is a huge bonus that should leave us buzzing with a sense of accomplishment if we do more. If my B.A.M. for saving more money is to save $100 from each paycheck along with only going out to eat two times a week, that is perfect. However, if I only go out to eat once a week and add an extra $200 to my savings at the end of the month, I just did more than what my B.A.M. required, and I am ahead of the game. For exercise, maybe it is working out three times a week. This small piece of the goal pushes you towards

your resolution, but in smaller, more manageable chunks. Staying consistent with that process gets you results versus going all in and smashing your face for two weeks at the local gym. As functioning adults, we need to find balance within our lives, and we do that through smaller, more intentional decisions that typically don’t overly impact our lives or routines. Many people wake up every day and brush their teeth without even thinking of it. It is because you have done it for decades, and it is woven into a part of your daily routine. Making more massive changes like a New Year’s resolution typically takes time, and we aren’t going to flip habits overnight. By breaking our days and weeks up into B.A.M.s, it allows us flexibility while still maintaining the accountability to reach our goals without creating burnout or guilt for not doing something new every day. My challenge to you is to pick something that you truly want to do and set two bare ass minimum tasks directly in line with that overall arching goal. Write them down in a place you see every day and enjoy reaching those goals.

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In the Kitchen

Avocado LIme Mash

Ingredients • 1 medium ripe avocado, halved and pitted • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro • Juice from 1/2 lime • Pinch salt • 1/2 cup peeled and finely chopped cucumber • 1 ounce Cotija (about a 1x2-inch chunk) • 1 tablespoon chopped Roma tomato • 1 Thai bird chile, chopped* • Tortilla chips (below)

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Directions Step 1 Scoop avocado into a medium bowl. Add onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt Mash well with a potato masher or fork, until no large chunks of avocado remain. Step 2 Add cucumber, Cotija and tomato. Stir with a fork to break up cheese and combine well. Serve garnished with chopped chile and a sprinkle of extra cheese.

‘Prep Tip Warning:

These tiny guys are kicky! In Mexico, they’re called cola de rata (rat’s tail) chiles, but in the States, they’re usually marketed as an Asian ingredient.

Tortilla Chips

Want to go all out and fry your own chips like at a Mexican restaurant? Start by Lining a

baking sheet with paper towels. Cut a stack of corn tortillas into sixths. In a large heavy skillet or pot, heat about 1 inch vegetable oil over medium heat to 365°. Add tortilla wedges to hot oil in small batches. Cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, turning once. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels, then sprinkle lightly with salt.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

34 calories; fat 3g; cholesterol 3mg; saturated fat 1g; carbohydrates 2g; mono fat 2g; poly fat Og; trans fatty acid Og; insoluble fiber ig; sugars Og; protein 1g; vitamin a 65.311J; vitamin c 2.1 mg; thiamin Om& riboflavin 0mg; niacin equivalents 0.3mg; vitamin b6 Omg; folate 13.6mcg; vitamin b12 0.1mcg; sodium 56mg; potassium 86mg; calcium 26mg; iron 0.1mg.

Wellness for Veterans Coupon Program Brought to you by a partnership between the Grand Traverse County Veterans Affairs Office and the Senior Center Network.

Free program coupon books available to area veterans for health and wellness programs within the Senior Center Network. Coupons allow veterans to attend selected FREE activities in Traverse City, Kingsley and Interlochen. Coupon books are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Coupon book details: One coupon book per veteran. Books contain 20 coupons. Coupon books issued in 2021 expire on December 30, 2021 Coupons may only be used for the following programs throughout the network: Energetics, Strong Bones and Balance, Mindful Movement, Yoga, Chair Massage, Reflexology. Full program descriptions available on our website and in the People, Parks and Programs newsletter. Wellness options are subject to change at the discretion of the Senior Center Network.

How veterans can receive coupons:

Visit the Grand Traverse County Senior Center Network at 801 E. Front Street, Traverse City to pick up a coupon book. In order to receive a coupon book, participants must: Be a current Senior Center Member in Grand Traverse or Leelanau County. Present proof of veteran status in person to a staff member. Complete a Grand Traverse County Veterans Affairs registration form.

Grand Traverse County Senior Center Network 801 E. Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49686 231-922-4911, grandtraverse.org/scn Locations in: Fife Lake, Interlochen, Kingsley, Traverse City

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GATHER Veterans Magazine January/February 2021  

GATHER Veterans Michigan is a resource dedicated to the inspiration, education, and encouragement of Michigan Veterans and active-duty milit...

GATHER Veterans Magazine January/February 2021  

GATHER Veterans Michigan is a resource dedicated to the inspiration, education, and encouragement of Michigan Veterans and active-duty milit...

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